An Irresponsible Age

An Irresponsible Age

by Lavinia Greenlaw
     
 

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A powerful, involving new novel, following on from the author’s much-praised debut novel ‘Mary George of Allnorthover’.‘An Irresponsible Age’, Lavinia Greenlaw's extraordinary new novel, is set in London in 1990, with Thatcher still in power but the country unwilling to 'abandon an idea just because it proved to be a bad one'. In these…  See more details below

Overview

A powerful, involving new novel, following on from the author’s much-praised debut novel ‘Mary George of Allnorthover’.‘An Irresponsible Age’, Lavinia Greenlaw's extraordinary new novel, is set in London in 1990, with Thatcher still in power but the country unwilling to 'abandon an idea just because it proved to be a bad one'. In these hesitant times we follow the life of Juliet Clough and her three siblings, all of them interdependent in a not-quite enviable way, clinging together after the death of a brother and the retreat of their grieving parents. When Juliet, the focus of them all, is drawn into a complex love affair with the enigmatic Jacob, the others, too, find themselves falling in love, and then evading the consequences. None will admit what they are doing, or why.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In a novel first published in the U.K. in 2006, Greenlaw (Mary George of Allnorthover, 2001, etc.) tries to shed light on the complicated Clough family-with mixed results. Tobias Clough did not die during a '90s bombing in London. He died afterwards in a traffic accident, ramming his motorcycle into the back of a car after police stopped traffic because of the threat of another explosion. The book examines Tobias's death and its impact on his family, especially siblings Carlo (a doctor), Fred (a banker), Clara (an artist) and Juliet (an art historian). The author turns Carlo's identification of the body into a ballet of words, and she captures both her native London, as well as small-town New England (Juliet escapes for a year to teach at a tiny college), in lush detail. Yet all that crafting often goes to waste. The book is supposed to be a coming-of-age story, with the Clough family and Tobias's widow Mary overcoming his death and coming into their own-particularly Juliet, the book's focus. But Juliet's muddled love affair with charming and elusive author Jacob Dart doesn't propel her to a new level of, well, anything. Nor does Clara's longing for Jacob, whose portrait she paints for his estranged wife. Even Fred, who buys a house and nearly gets the girl of his dreams, fails to blossom. Which makes a conversation Jacob and Juliet have near the beginning of the novel all the more ironic. She attacks Jacob's widely read book Foucault's Egg for lacking real meaning. Outside of being a meandering and lyrical dissertation on how different people grieve, Greenlaw's novel suffers from the same thing. The prose may be beautiful, but the story is not compelling.
From the Publisher

"There's more than a whiff of Cold Comfort Farm hanging over this elegant novel."  —Daily Mail

"An engrossing and thought-provoking read."  —Sunday Telegraph

"A subtle and intriguing novel."  —Observer

"A terrific book, a meteorological force in its own right . . . absorbing and beautifully observed."  —Evening Standard

"Made plausible by the brilliance of the writing . . . Greenlaw superbly brings to life her characters' inner life and their perceptions of their world."  —Financial Times

"A piece of ice in the eye, chilling and disturbing, a beautiful portrait of ordinary unhappiness at its best."  —Irish Times

"Gifted with a sharp eye for detail and a fine sensibility to verbal nuance and patterning, Greenlaw has already established herself as a significant force in British poetry. This new novel seems certain to confirm her developing reputation as a writer of lively, intelligent and well-crafted fiction."  —Guardian

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780007391004
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/28/2012
Sold by:
HarperCollins Publishers
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
File size:
666 KB

Meet the Author

Lavinia Greenlaw is the author of two books of poetry, ‘Night Photograph’ (1993), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread and Forward awards, and ‘A World Where News Travelled Slowly’ (1997), which won the Forward Prize. She is currently working at the Poetry Library, having previously been Writer-in-Residence at the Science Museum, at a law practice, and in several schools. She lives in north London.

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